Vorkuta is situated in permafrost zone, 150 km from the Arctic Circle, only 180 km from the Arctic Ocean coastline, and it is the easternmost town in Europe. In 1930 Georgii Chernov’s  expedition discovered the largest and best quality industrial coal fields in Eastern Europe near place where later was built town named Vorkuta. The coal was needed for successful Joseph Stalin’s industrialization and metallurgy industry of the Soviet Union. In 1931 3700 prisoners of the Soviet Gulag were sent to coal fields for forced labour. By the spring of 1932 only 54 of them survived. At that time was built first Vorkuta’s working township Rudnik. After the beginning of Joseph Stalin’s mass political repressions in 1937-1938 known as the Great Terror, in Vorkuta was formed one of the most cruel Gulag camp «Vorkutlag» which existed until 1960. Prisoner’s forced labour was used for the coal mining. Mortality rate in Vorkutlag from disease, exhaustion and hunger was very high. Мore than 200 thousand prisoners died in Vorkuta. In 1950s many people from central and southern USSR began to move to Vorkuta. High level salaries, social privileges attracted tens of thousands young people from the Soviet Union. Most of the work in the town was connected with coal mining. Production of coal, demanded by metallurgical industry, remained the basis of Vorkuta social and economical wealth for several decades. By early 90s, the city and its working townships, based near coal mines and known as the Vorkuta Ring, were home for near 220000 people. Vorkuta was one of the richest and most promising nothern working cities of the Soviet Union. Despite subarctic cold climate many soviet people dreamed to live and work in this city.  After the Fall of the USSR profitability of coal mines was doubted. The collapse of the Soviet economy set in motion the decline of Vorkuta: unemployment spiked, crime increased and living standards sank.  Many people left their houses and moved from Vorkuta to more southern cities of Russia. Schools, hospitals, nursery schools and many other governmental institutions were closing down in multitudes. In a short while whole neighborhoods suddenly turned into ghost towns. Today in Vorkuta and at the Vorkuta Ring live 70,000 people. Vorkuta’s population continues to decline every year. Vorkuta became one of the most rapidly dying cities in Russia.

Portfolio